Sunday, February 2, 2014

Creamy Hash with Turkey Bacon

I'm back. Last year was nuts! I honestly didn't do nearly as much cooking as the year before because I joined a rock band...? Yup-seriously. And I have realized that my time in the kitchen has shifted to big breakfasts on the weekend while my wonderful hubby Kent cooks up most of the dinners while I am rehearsing. (Many of his creations to come!) This morning, however, I finally made something that pushed me over to the computer to share--a super yummy hash for this super cold Sunday. How can it look so beautiful out, yet be so awfully cold at the same time? It's just cruel. So if you are inside surviving the sub-zero temperature dive yet again, looking longingly out the sunny window, hoping for warmer days so you can actually enjoy the snow, here is a little something to warm your belly and settle your soul.

Creamy Hash with Turkey Bacon
This is a lighter hash, but of course, if you've got the “real” stuff on hand (or just don't give a rip), substitute at will.

2-3 cups frozen hashbrowns (about an inch deep in your skillet)
3Tbsp canola oil
¼ cup onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup fat-free half-n-half
¼ cup light sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 strips turkey bacon
2 eggs

In your 12 inch skillet, heat the oil and saute the onions until soft over medium-high heat. Remove the onions (unless you like them super crispy) and add the frozen hashbrowns. Put the onions on top of the potatoes and season up with your desired amount of salt and pepper. Cover. (Covering is the key to awesome hashbrowns. This may seem crazy, but you'll be so glad you did it!)

Cook hashbrowns for 5 minutes covered. If it is your first time making hashbrowns, you may need to monitor your heat and browning, but ideally you should just leave them alone. Heat should be somewhere between medium and medium-high, and they may seem like they are sticking a bit at first but that is a-OK.

In another pan cook up your turkey bacon until it has reached your desired crispiness--for me that is about 4 minutes. Remove the bacon, add a bit of oil, and make your over-easy eggs.

Flip hashbrowns over in chunks. Don't worry if this isn't a perfect pancake of hashbrowns. It is all going to get mixed up anyway. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Slice your turkey bacon into thin strips and sprinkle on the hash browns. Pour the half-n-half over and mix in gently. Sprinkle with the cheese and fold in. Remove to plates immediately and top with your egg.

Serves 2 hungry Minnesotans on a cold winter's day.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Beef and Wild Rice Stroganoff Soup

I had all of the ingredients to make Beef Stroganoff except the egg noodles, so I thought—why not soup?! This recipe is easy and though I made it in the crock pot, you could easily simmer on the stove as well. And another Budget Friendly Fix—the stew meat was on sale for $2.99/lb and the 8 oz mushroom package was $1.99! I hope you and your family enjoy this warm hearty soup on yet another snowy Minnesota day…

Beef and Wild Rice Stroganoff Soup
1 lb stew meat, cut into small chunks
½ cup uncooked wild rice
8 oz baby bella, crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 shallot, minced
½ cup carrot, chopped small
4 stalks celery, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups beef or vegetable stock
¼ cup flour
Salt and pepper
Fresh thyme, rosemary, oregano
1 cup half and half, or heavy cream
Sour cream or yogurt to garnish, if desired

Place your chopped vegetables and mushrooms in the crock pot with 3 Tbsps of olive oil. Cover and cook on high while you prepare the other ingredients. Mince the garlic and shallots and add to the crock.

Place the wild rice in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of warm water. Stir and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Then drain and discard the water.

Cut your stew meat into small, finger tip sized chunks. Trim fat as desired. In a small bowl, toss the meat with the flour and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Continue to toss until all of meat is well coated with the flour.

Add the meat to the vegetable mixture by the handful, leaving any excess flour in the bowl to discard. Stir together and then pour in the vegetable or beef stock. Stir in the drained wild rice. Add a sprig of rosemary, and oregano and a small bunch of thyme, or a ½ tsp of each dried. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

Now you have a couple of serving options: Uncover and allow the soup to cool down for a while. (Pour into a big bowl for faster cooling.) Then add 1 cup of half and half and 1 cup of sour cream. OR you can finish this at the table as below:
Remove the cover and ladle into bowls. When the soup has cooled slightly, stir 2 Tbsps of half and half into each serving.  You may add more if you wish. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and serve with some crusty bread.

This soup will serve a family of 6 for dinner or 8 for lunch--and it makes great leftovers ;)
Thanks for reading—

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Budget Friendly Fixes: Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole

Welcome to the first post in my new segment: Budget Friendly Fixes.  I will be referring to these recipes as my BFFs! These are the kinds of recipes for those end of the day “Oh yea…dinner…” moments.  Using things you can find at the bottom of your refrigerator and back of your pantry, this recipe is quick, cheap, and tasty. These recipes are also very substitute-able. Let me know what you find to use in your fridge!

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Stove-top Casserole
Have extra cheese? Use it! Spinach instead of broccoli? Hooray! In my fridge, I found a turkey sausage link to use, but I think ham would be delicious! Enjoy!

1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups chicken stock
¾ cup skim milk
2/3 cup shredded cheese
¼ cup light sour cream
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cooked sausage link, cubed small
Pinch of garlic powder and black pepper

In a saucepan, bring rice and broth to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and cook following the package directions.  Set your timer for 3 minutes less than the rice’s instructed cooking time. In a microwave safe dish, steam chopped broccoli with 1 cup of water, covered for 2 minutes in the microwave. Drain the water and combine the cubed cooked meat, broccoli and chopped green onions.

When the timer goes off, quickly pour the broccoli meat mixture on top of the cooking rice. Recover and cook for the remaining 3 minutes.  No need to stir. When the rice has finished cooking the three minutes, it may be a bit firm, but that is fine. Pour in the milk. Increase the heat to medium high. Stir while the milk bubbles and continue to cook until it thickens—about 1-2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cheese.  Add the garlic powder and black pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the light sour cream.
Serve with fresh fruit and some crackers and you have a quick and kid friendly meal for four!

As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Year Two!

Hello Readers!

This week was the second anniversary of The Finch’s Nest! Thank you so much for your support! I took a little break this fall, but of course, all the while I was cooking, eating and planning amazing fun recipes to post here. I can’t wait to share more recipes with you! These are some of the things to come:

Thanks again!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Apples for Dinner Party

We had a ton of apples and I decided to throw together a quick apple themed dinner using the things we had around the house. And Noam and Kristin brought a salad with a cider vinaigrette. Perfect!  I decided it would be fun to share the menu with you. Consider a theme for your next get-together! Happy Fall!

Wine: Hauser’s Grand Reserve Apple Wine from Bayfield, WI

Salad: Noam’s Toasted Almond Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Appetizer: Whiskey Cheese Fondue
                1 cup wine, 12 oz. shredded swiss and gruyere cheese, 1 Tbsp cornstarch, 1/4 cup whiskey
In your fondue pot, heat the wine until it begins to bubble. Combine the cheese and cornstarch. Add the cheese in four handfuls. Stir each handful in until it is completely melted. When all of the cheese is melted and combined, stir in the whiskey. Keep over low heat while eating. Serve with chunked apples, and fresh sourdough bread. Spice it up with cayenne pepper, parsley, or green chilis! 

Main Course: Caramelized Onion Butternut Squash Soup with Apples
                2 Butternut squash, 6 small apples, 2 purple+1 yellow onion, garlic, 4 cups chicken broth, spices, 1 bottle of Crispin hard cider

Remove the seeds and strings from two medium butternut squash. Roast the squash (4 halves) for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Caramelize 2 large purple and 1 large yellow onion with 3 Tbsp of butter for 25 minutes. Add 3 cloves crushed garlic. Pour in a 12oz bottle of Crispin cider and cook down for 3 minutes on high heat. Peel, core and dice 6 small apples. Add 4 cups of chicken broth, pepper and salt. Scoop the roasted squash into the soup and puree with an immersion blender.  Add a pinch of allspice and curry powder. Top with cream, chopped fresh parsley and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Dessert: Omenapiiraka- Finnish Apple Pie

Have a great Wednesday!

Omenapiirakka: Finnish Apple Pie

Apples, apples and more apples! After a successful day of apple picking with Emily and Joe this weekend, we had apples to spare. Last night we hosted Noam and Kristin for an apple themed dinner party to use some up and for dessert I made this amazingly easy apple pie. 

This is another rustic-style Finnish pie with a free-form crust. Based on Bea Ojakangas’ recipe from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, this pie whips together in about 15 minutes of prep and 30 minutes of baking! I hope you enjoy this easy Finnish dessert.

1 ¼ cup white whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch of ground allspice and cardamon
1 stick of cold butter, cubed
1 cup heavy cream

5-6 small tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick
½ tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp flour
¼ cup cane sugar
Dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the flours, baking powder and spices. Cut the cold butter into the flour until it is well-combined and crumbly. Pour in the heavy cream and form into a ball. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Peel and slice the apples and mix with the remaining ingredients.

On a large greased baking sheet, roll out the dough into a large square. Cut to straighten the edges. Pour the apples into the center of the dough square and fold the sides up and over about 1 inch. Using the scrapes, roll out and cut to make a lattice pattern on the top of the exposed apples in the center of the pie.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Make sure to let the pie cool. Then cut into 9 squares. Top with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce, or drop a dollop of ice cream on the side! Enjoy!


Monday, October 8, 2012

A Squash Adventure: Acorn Squash Puree

While visiting my buddy AnnaJean, I noticed she had some local squash on her counter.  So at her request, I am posting this recipe for Acorn Squash Puree. It is super yummy for kids and adults alike! Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos the last time I made it, but we have all seen acorn squash before. So here is the next installment in our Squash Adventure!

Exhibit B: Acorn Squash—shaped like an acorn, the rind is thick and dark green and the inside is a soft orange color that deepens when it is cooked. It has a very mild flavor, and the flesh is very similar in texture to sweet potato that is slightly undercooked.  It keeps on the counter for a LONG time. As long as it is still firm and without mold you can cook it up! It is readily available at most supermarkets and farmer’s markets.

I have had this squash a variety of ways. When I think of fall squash, this is the one I picture on the plate—cut in half, bright orange and beautiful, drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkle with pecans.  But this is also really great mashed into a puree as a side dish. It also makes this squash choice more friendly for those who do not like the consistency of plain squash. So here is a really easy recipe you can whip up in a flash!

Acorn Squash Puree
1 acorn squash
3 Tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup milk
1 Tbsp butter
Pinch of cinnamon
Brown sugar, to top with if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Score the squash with a knife into squares. Brush the squash with maple syrup. Bake for 45min to 60 minutes, until the squash is soft.

Scoop out the flesh into a glass bowl. With a handheld mixer or immersion blender puree the flesh with the remaining ingredients. You may need to add a bit more milk if it isn’t smoothing to your preference. Top with brown sugar and more butter if desired. This puree may also be frozen and would make a yummy baby food choice for your little one!